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I have encountered this phrase on a forum. It was an answer to an unclear question. What does it exactly mean? In particular, what is the function of be going to in this case?

You're going to have to be more specific

Is it a polite way to say one should be more specific?

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  • I'm going to have to closevote this as Primarily Opinion-based. But I have to point out that usage is also affected by precise context. In my opinion, those first two sentences would both seem very strange if I'd reversed the two usages. May 25, 2015 at 13:34
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    Nobody ever says You're going to have to be; native speakers say /'yərɡən'æftəbi/ -- 'You're gonna hafta be' in eye dialect spelling -- and that makes it sound considerably shorter and simpler. What it means is Future (Necessary (you, specific (you)) -- in the future, it will be necessary for you to be more specific. May 25, 2015 at 17:07

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"You're going to have to be more specific"

  1. Question: "... what is the function of be going to in this case?"

It's the construction to be + going + infinitive

This usage refers to the near future as opposed to a Future Indefinite tense. In other words, your sentence, "You're going to have to be more specific" can be rewritten as "You will have to be more specific".

This is correct and is commonly used in conversations, replacing Future tense.

  1. Is it a polite way to say one should be more specific?

Well, for sure, it tones it down. "You should be more specific" sounds straight and abrupt.

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  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post.
    – Drew
    May 25, 2015 at 21:15
  • Well, "You're going to have to be more specific. Is it a polite way to say one should be more specific"? is the question. I think I've answered it by saying it depends on the tone, situation, etc. I've tried to give a few examples of how the polite sentence would be.
    – Sankarane
    May 25, 2015 at 21:33
  • The way I read it, the actual question is "what is the function of be going to in this case?" and follow-up "is it a polite way..." is just one hypothesis that was considered and proposed. So your answer doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. :-)
    – Hellion
    May 25, 2015 at 22:53
  • You're right! It might be an oversight.
    – Sankarane
    May 25, 2015 at 22:56
  • So in this case it means something like Next time you ask a question, be more specific, does it?
    – olegst
    May 26, 2015 at 5:42
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It's the usual sense. Literal meaning would be "In the future, you should be more specific".

It doesn't make it more polite though. Some people would actually take it offensively. A more polite way to say it would be to make a suggestion instead.

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